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AWF Gift Fulfills Member's Promise to Mountain Gorillas

  • Tuesday, February 20, 2001

In 1979, AWF member Frank Rus, of Naperville, Ill., decided to make a trip that travel agents described as impossible, traveling the Congo River 1,100 miles from Kinshasa to the end of navigation, Kisingani. Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) was broken down (in the words of one government official), accommodations were scarce, transportation was unreliable and taking 16mm camera equipment to film mountain gorillas into a country suspicious of all unfamiliar activities would be extremely difficult. Nevertheless, Frank went. And he managed to film the magnificent gorillas in the Virungas. Here's his account of the visit that affected him so deeply, he says, that it feels as if it happened only yesterday:

After a climb through tea plantations and a several-hour search, our trackers found the gorilla family we were hoping to film. The thrill of being close to family members, who were feeding in the trees, playing, swinging on vines from tree to tree, is impossible to describe. For some time, we quietly observed this most handsome and powerful of the great apes, admiring the gentleness of the youngsters' play and the keen, watchful eye of their mama as she feasted away several feet above. All too soon, our trackers urged us to move on. The great, highly respected silverback patriarch was defensively circling our group.

"I promised my mountain gorilla friends to do what little I could to see that they're allowed to live their way of life in peace and good health. Following AWF's work in Africa with mountain gorillas and other endangered species and hearing of its respected reputation in the eyes of knowledgeable experts, I have included AWF in my living trust. Having seen these magnificent creatures in the wild, one feels an ongoing obligation to help protect them.

"Though there are innumerable causes one can support, I find the protection of wildlife worldwide ranks among the most worthy. And I believe that the protection of Africa's wildlife through intelligent, thoughtful administration of land preservation, indigenous people's interests and anti-poaching measures is a cause anyone should be proud to further."

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